Expectations—Learning about Less Part 2

“All You Need Is Less” is my mantra of the year.

Yes, “Less Self-Imposed Expectations” was a hard, hard lesson to learn, but I was able to do it in part by finding out I’m not alone on the island. Many people get caught up in the same spiral of trying to do it all, all of the time.  I reached out to many other people, asking why they hold themselves up against unrealistic self-imposed expectations.  Three interesting responses I got were:

 “When I say I’m going to do something, if I said I’d do it, I have to follow through and do it. Period.”

“It’s all stuff that has to be done, and no one else is going to do it, so I have to.”

“It just happens. I don’t know how I get myself so overextended with everything.  I don’t mean to take on so much, but it all piles up and then I struggle with getting anything done at all.”

All perfectly understandable explanations. And the last thing we want to do is have to look those commitments straight on and admit we’re in over our heads!

So I broke things down a little and took a closer look.

Following through.  Of course it’s important and responsible to follow through.  It demonstrates dependability.  Others feel comfortable counting on you.  It’s a foundation block of good character and maturity and being trustable.  But “I have to, Period”?  Sometimes, saying yes proves to be more than you’ve bargained for.  Being good for one’s word is a noble enough effort, but come on now, sometimes things come up that can’t be helped.  Maybe it wasn’t clear at first that saying yes would be a mistake—but coming clean with it the moment you do know is the right thing to do.  It’s ok to admit you’ve made a mistake!

The trouble is, if we don’t pay attention to what we actually agree to, eventually we’re caught up in a pile of commitments we’ve got no business being involved in, but come hell or high water by golly we’re gonna get um all done! Of course you don’t want to go back on your word.  Certainly we don’t want to make it a habit! But not allowing an occasional “change of mind” or admittance “I was wrong, I can’t make this happen by the deadline”  is inflexible, unhealthy and perhaps more critical to consider for yourself than the guilt of letting someone down.  In the bigger picture, the core problem stems from the inability to set a reasonable limit as to what we say we are willing to do in the first place.  And that’s a totally fixable problem.

Always rising to the occasion, whether it’s your occasion or not.  Oh, yes.  Ever the do-er, the matriarch, the head of the “whatever”, saving the day, the family, the department, the world…. “I’ll get it done” because all eyes turned to you, and well, someone has to! Also an admirable load to bear, but the truth is, always being “the one” is selfish.  Remember as a kid, your parents (hopefully) teaching you to share?  It wasn’t just about things, it was also about sharing responsibilities — ‘taking turns’ is an important life skill to have.  Not letting others step up and share the load is a pretty arrogant behavior.  Besides possibly enabling others to not learn to do their part, it can cause serious stress and health issues for you, the do-er.  Maybe that’s when it’s time to dial back and realize it’s not always about you.

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. Sometimes it’s okay to let someone else take the lead.  You’re not the only brain in the room.  It’ okay to step away from “center stage”, running the show, and even to let the “chips fall as they may” when you finally decide it’s someone else’s turn to help.  Perhaps doing so will uncover something important for you.  Perhaps doing so will allow others to grow and learn something.  In the bigger picture, the core problem likely stems from the inability to trust and let go of control.  By believing we have to be the one to do it all, eventually we drown in an overwhelming struggle to doing too much; frustrated and resentful that we’re ‘alone on the island’ –we’ve trained others that they don’t have to step up because we always will.

And then there’s saying yes. And yes. And yes, and yes. We just can’t say no, and we just don’t pay attention to how much yes we give out.  Awwwe.  What a nice person! We want to help.  We want to be liked.  We want to be accepted and appreciated.  Be wanted.  Be needed.  Feel valued.  All normal desires and a part of being the amazing human beings that we are.  But the reality is, those feelings shouldn’t have to be dependent on fulfilling the needs and wants of everything and everybody else.  We are valuable, worthy and essential on this planet whether we are constantly overloaded with doing things….or not.  We are not defined by how much we do for others, but for who we are.

But somehow, we mistakenly convince ourselves that we ARE defined by how much we “do”, which is a faulty rationalization.  Without knowing and owning self-value in our hearts, we keep offering, helping, and doing until we are backed-logged with dozens of projects and commitments, and no time to breathe, let alone focus on getting any one thing done for anyone.  Overworked and overwhelmed, eventually we end up missing deadlines, doing inferior work, disappointing people and feeling like a failure.

In talking with these three people about their various situations, I discovered that on TOP of my own reasons, I, too have, from time to time, been guilty of each of their reasons as well! So back last year while I was trying to figure out my health issues, and was literally forced to do “less”, I developed a new plan of action to Ensure Less Unrealistic Expectations.  My plan of action isn’t rocket science.  It isn’t anything outrageously innovative or unique.  But it sure does work for me.  Stay tuned.  Next time I’ll unfold the plan of how I Ensure Less Unrealistic Expectations of myself.

 

Thank you for reading my post. Did it strike a chord for you or did it seem far and away from your own perspective?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  All comments are greatly appreciated.  You can read about all sorts of ideas, opinions and feelings from the heart and soul of an outdoorswoman… there are lots of topics covered in my blog category, “Girl Outdoors”.  If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website.  You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’.  There’s a place to do that right on my website homepage.  As always, please feel free to share my information with others who may find interest and value in PR Brady AdVentures!  Thanks again!

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